Get an Inside Look at Apple's Early Field Failure Analysis Program Ahead of the iPhone 6 Launch

by

Ahead of the iPhone 6's launch, Adam Satariano of BloombergBusinessweek has shared some details on Apple's early field failure analysis (EFFA) program, designed to solve potential iPhone issues quickly and efficiently. The EFFA Program, which is run by Apple's AppleCare team, has been in place since the late 1990s.

As outlined by Satariano, shortly after any iPhone release, the EFFA program sees couriers shuttling defective units received from returns to a testing room in Cupertino, where they are inspected by iPhone engineers in an attempt to fix problems in a timely manner. As soon as a fix is in place, it's deployed across the company's global supply chain.

iphone_5s_5c.jpg

"They take them apart to diagnose what's happening right then and there," says Mark Wilhelm, who helped lead Apple's returns program. [...]

Often, they jury-rig a hardware fix, then coordinate a solution across Apple's global supply chain. Sometimes the problems can't be solved quickly--remember Apple Maps leading people astray. "Every day they don't recognize a problem, they are potentially manufacturing more bad products," says Michael Fawkes, the former head of supply chain for Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

With the EFFA program, engineers in Cupertino learn of a potential problem as soon as a return is made in a retail store, and the serial numbers of each device allow the company to track defective devices down to "individual workers on an assembly line."

An example of EFFA in action came in 2007, with the release of the original iPhone. Several devices returned with a faulty touchscreen caused by an earpiece flaw that let in a user's sweat. Apple engineers fixed the problem with a new coating, which rolled out to assembly lines shortly after and prevented a more widespread issue.

According to former employees, EFFA testing is most crucial during the weeks after a device first launches, but the team remains active for many months, and publishes a weekly report highlighting common issues reported by customers. Apple's EFFA team will be called to action in just a few short weeks, as Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 6 at a media event on September 9, with a launch coming shortly after.

For additional details on EFFA, make sure to check out Satarino's full piece over at BloombergBusinessweek.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
77 months ago
They must have been shi*ting all sort of bricks during antenna gate
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
I work for an engineering company that is slowly working toward this kind of culture in the QA department. It's slow going but, as Apple's customer satisfaction scores indicate, well worth it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
Get an Inside Look at Apple's Early Field Failure Analysis Program Ahead of t...

In short. Apple has a good quality department.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago

There was no such flaw, and cases were never required. That antenna design is STILL sold today (the 8GB, over 4 years later) and works fine. The phone got better reception than its predecessor, which had already been praised for its reception, and better than many competing phones (some of which also had externally exposed antennas--not an Apple first). Yes, as with any phone, the way you hold it can affect you when you're in a weak signal location.

There was a PR "flaw," of course! Lots of people without iPhones moaning on behalf of the supposed masses of iPhone users with problems. VERY few actual owners posting complaints for themselves. Which is astonishing, considering the media hullaballoo made people LOOK for a problem they could have seen on any phone in history.

Antenna gate was mostly myth. It died accordingly, and Apple giving out the cases (which would help ANY phone ever made, and which most people already use anyway) was simply part of their PR response.

I was glad to get my free case :) And I used it only when hiking, because it simply was not needed for reception.



Agreed. Normally I'd be worried, about first-release products from ANY company. (I never install x.0 of any OS.) But with iOS, backup-and-restore is SO painless and complete, the next day after a warranty swap it's like nothing ever happened. You're risking hassle, but (IF a Genius is near you), the risk is minor.

Scratch that! Apple has terrible products, terrible service and never fixes anything! Wait at least a month before you buy! That way you won't be ahead of me in the order queue :)


The kool-aid is strong in this one.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
So being the early adopters is risky after all...
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
*something about 2011 MBP GPU failures*
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Top Stories: Try the 5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Display Size, Blockbuster Earnings, Tim Cook at Antitrust Hearing

Saturday August 1, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Another busy week of Apple news and rumors has wrapped up, with a lot of focus on Tim Cook's appearance at a Congressional antitrust hearing and a blockbuster earnings report. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We continued to hear rumors about the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, including a rare admission from Apple that the lineup will launch "a few weeks later" than...

Just How Small Will the 5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Screen Be? Try It Out for Yourself

Tuesday July 28, 2020 12:57 pm PDT by
As rumors of the iPhone 12 have continued to build over the past few months, the one model that has the most excitement around it is the smallest 5.4" model. The iPhone 12 is believed to be coming in 5.4", 6.7", and 6.1" sizes. Dummy models have shown how much smaller the 5.4" is compared to the rest of the iPhone lineup. The upcoming 5.4" iPhone falls in-between the size of the original...

Unreleased iPod Touch with Mac Pro Glossy Black Finish Shared Online

Sunday August 2, 2020 11:32 am PDT by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today posted images of what seems to be a first-generation iPod Touch prototype with a 2013 Mac Pro-style glossy black finish. The Twitter user claims that the iPod Touch prototype pictured has "the same coating as the 2013 Mac Pro." Had the finish been selected for the final product, it also would have been similar to the metallic glossy black finish that...

Apple Confirms This Year's iPhone 12 Models Will Be a Little Bit Late

Thursday July 30, 2020 2:34 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call covering the third fiscal quarter of 2020 (second calendar quarter) Apple CFO Luca Maestri confirmed that Apple is expecting to release this year's iPhones later than usual. Maestri said that Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later." Multiple rumors have suggested that ...

Battery Likely for Upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 Filed in Certification Listings

Saturday August 1, 2020 5:46 am PDT by
A battery likely for the upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 has been filed at the Korea Testing and Research Institute and discovered by a Twitter user @yabhishekhd. Certification for a 1.17Wh battery with a capacity of 303.8mAh was issued on June 23 by the KTR, a Korean regulatory body that approves and tests new hardware ahead of public sale. The battery seems to be destined for a future...

Apple Watch Series 6 to Feature Blood Oxygen Monitoring Sensor

Friday July 31, 2020 1:56 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 6 will add blood oxygen monitoring to its features list when it's launched later this year, according to a new report from DigiTimes. Apple Watch 6 will feature biosensors that can monitor sleeping conditions, detect blood oxygen and measure pulse rates, heartbeats and atrial fibrillation, and will also incorporate MEMS-based accelerometer and gyroscope, all allowing the ...

Apple Marks Return of NHL With New 'Hockey Tape' Ad Shot on iPhone 11 Pro

Saturday August 1, 2020 2:33 am PDT by
Apple today marked the return of NHL hockey with a new "Shot on iPhone" ad on its YouTube channel in Canada. Titled "Hockey Tape," the 30-second video features Vegas Golden Knights players Marc-André Fleury and Mark Stone having some on-ice fun with the iPhone 11 Pro, which they attach to the boards, a hockey stick, and a skate with hockey tape. "See the game like never before with Ultra ...

Emails Reveal Why Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller Blocked In-App Purchase of Kindle Books

Friday July 31, 2020 6:25 am PDT by
Internal Apple emails, made public by the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust inquiry, have revealed information about why Apple blocked in-app purchases of Kindle books on iOS devices, reports The Verge. Two sets of emails between Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and various other senior Apple executives, disclose the exact thinking behind how Apple approached Kindle on iOS. The...